There’s a good interview with Josh Groban on Fresh Air where he talks about the revival of Sweeney Todd where he plays the title character.
Ann Marie Baldonado is the interviewer:
BALDONADO: You – when you’re describing Sondheim, you talked about how, you know, he often writes staccato, but this – of “Sweeney’s” a little more romantic. Could you give an example of that comparison that you’re making?
GROBAN: Sure. For instance, you know, in a show of his, which is also a favorite of mine, “Sunday In The Park With George”…
BALDONADO: That Annaleigh Ashford was in.
GROBAN: That Annaleigh Ashford was also in, yes, with Jake Gyllenhaal. And they were both wonderful. You know, Sondheim wrote the way that Georges Seurat painted – you know, lots of, you know, red, red, red, red, red, red, orange, red, red, orange. I want to pick blue. (Vocalizing) – very staccato, almost pointillist the way he was – the way he wrote the notes because that’s what was going on in George’s head. And so he brilliantly kind of made that synergy between what the character and what the music was doing.
And, you know, there’s – one of my favorite scenes in “Sweeney Todd” is the second song of Act 2, where this – they called it the “Johanna Quartet” – where Sweeney is, you know, dispatching victims with this kind of sociopathic ease and calmness and singing this, you know, (singing) and are you beautiful and pale, my turtledove, you know? And he’s singing about Johanna and how life is fine. And I may miss you, and maybe I won’t. And life is good, and the machine is rolling. And, you know, and meanwhile, the hands are quiet, you know, calmly and terrifyingly smoothly, you know, slitting throats and sending people down in the chair.
And that could have been written very sharply and very angular and more twisted. But if the actions weren’t there for an audience to witness, the song is something that people might – maybe not play at their wedding, but something very, very, you know, romantic sounding and more legato. So, yeah, I think those are two examples of where he’s made those choices, and it’s just so much fun.